Two Army generals who played key roles in the war on terror are among 16 Rangers inducted into the 2015 Ranger Hall of Fame Wednesday at Fort Benning’s McGinnis-Wickam Hall.
The 1 p.m. event in Marshall Auditorium honors and preserves the spirit and contributions of America’s elite soldiers. Inductees include Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Gen. John Philip Abizaid, two key officers in the war on terrorism and Col. Skip Chittenden of Columbus, who helped write a Ranger Handbook more than five decades ago.
Each Ranger or a family member will be presented a Ranger Hall of Fame medallion suspended from a red, white and blue ribbon. The medal is a symbol of selflessness, excellence and accomplishment in the defense of America and to the highest ideals of service.
Fort Benning officials had no information Tuesday night on who would be attending the ceremony. McChrystal was described as the finest warrior and leader of men in combat by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates. The general served as commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan, director of the joint staff from 2008 to 2009, and commander of the Joint Special Operations Command from 2003 to 2008 where he was credited with the death of Al-Qaeda leader commander Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq. He was also criticized for his alleged role in the friendly fire incident that took the life of Ranger Pat Tillman.
Abizaid is the former commander of U.S. Central Command, or CENTCOM, where he oversaw military operations in a 27-country region, from the Horn of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula to South and Central Asia, which covers much of the Middle East. After retiring with 34 years of service, he has served as a fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, distinguished chair of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point and other positions.
During his service, Abizaid jumped from an MC-130 onto a landing strip in Grenada in 1983. He ordered one of his Rangers to drive a bulldozer toward Cuban troops as he advanced behind it, a scene highlighted in “Heartbreak Ridge,” a 1986 Clint Eastwood film.
Chittenden thought of creating a handbook in 1961 while instructing Rangers at Fort Benning. Soldiers were constantly writing notes on pieces of paper. “We were out teaching Rangers and one tried to take some notes on a piece of paper all shredded,” he said during an interview at the Best Ranger Competition this year. “I said, ‘Why don’t we put something out that tells them what he would be doing?’”